A love of poetry—of the poet’s life—infuses these essays and brings a glow to the theoretical and a bright flame to the...

A celebrated poet collects some recent essays on theory, craft, and other poets.

In her second essay collection, after Proofs and Theories (1994), Glück (English and Creative Writing/Yale Univ.; Faithful and Virtuous Night, 2014, etc.), who has won about every major poetry prize, delivers a generous variety of pieces. Some deal with the current state of American poetry; some are admiring assessments of her fellow poets (Emily Dickinson, Robert Pinsky, Stephen Dobyns, Dan Chiasson); and one group of 10 comprises introductions to first books by new poets, artists whose work Glück has evaluated for various writing contests. These pieces, unsurprisingly, are uniformly laudatory (“mastery of tone and diction”; “haunting, elusive, luminous”)—though, as the essays clearly reveal, the poets themselves are hardly uniform. These pieces also feature many quoted passages. Of course, the more heavily theoretical pieces will appeal primarily to Glück’s fellow poets and to the literati. The author observes, for example, that recent poetry “affords two main types of incomplete sentences: the aborted whole and the sentence with gaps. In each case, the nonexistent, the unspoken, becomes a focus; ideally, a whirling concentration of questions.” Near the end are more personal essays that deal with Glück’s childhood, her years in psychoanalysis, and her insights about the varying effects of happiness and despair on poets. She convincingly argues that happiness is the more beneficial, productive emotion, for it does not deny the writer access to the dark side. Another entertaining and revelatory piece explores the author’s childhood revenge fantasies and how, uniquely, they accelerated her journey into the world of poetry. And there are smiles (maybe even a guffaw or two) in some of her observations—e.g., that Rilke could be “oddly masturbatory.”

A love of poetry—of the poet’s life—infuses these essays and brings a glow to the theoretical and a bright flame to the personal.

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-29955-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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